Friday, November 26, 2010

Learning by Heart – week 7

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom”
– Henry Ward Beecher

{M is 4 years old}

{ Happy Belated Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you had as blessed of a day as we did.  I’m still having computer woes (still writing without a connection, then scheduling a bunch of posts out at a time), and my camera broke (great week for that), but all in all it was a wonderful thanks-filled week, and I’m very grateful for all my blessings.  Blessings like a broken camera and computer topping my list of frustrations, instead of something like not having enough food to feed my family. }

Our school time this week…


Die-cut letters (Dollar Tree) and some “better blocks”, which are sort of like legos, but they swivel and you can create things that have moving parts.  I set them out for M to use in forming the letters A through I:die-cut letters with better blocks

A new dot-to-dot book:dot-to-dot book   

Magnetic pattern blocks and patterns:
magnetic pattern blocks and pattern mats


Geoboard with colorful binders.  I bought the geoboard from Amazon last summer, and the hair bands are from Dollar Tree.geoboard and colorful binders

This was the first time M saw the geoboard, and he really enjoyed making shapes and designs.  he enjoyed using it to fling the bands around the room too… but well, he is a four year old boy. :)geoboard designs

I remember making these suncatchers when I was little, and I LOVED them.  This is the kind that has tiny plastic beads which you put into the metal frame, then bake in the oven.  I found some at Michael’s, and bought them up.  M tried his first one this week.  It was on his shelf as just a fun item, but I had him pinch the beads to place them where he wanted, so it ended up being a good fine motor activity too.sun and moon suncatcher kit
The finished suncatcher:sun and moon suncatcher

There were a lot of beads left over, so we got out some metal cookie cutters, placed them on a cookie sheet, and M used the left over beads to fill them up.  After they baked and cooled, I popped them out of the cookie cutters:cookie cutter suncatchersWith a hole, and different cookie cutters, these would make fun Christmas ornaments to give the grandparents, don’t you think? 

New H and I objects for the phonics box:H and I phonics box objects horse, house, hammer, hippo, ice cream, and ice

We’ve been playing a lot of Mancala lately, so this was out on his shelf too (although it wasn’t really an independent activity):mancalaMancala is a great game for counting to higher numbers too, because at the end of the game all of the stones have to be counted.  It took M a couple of games to really understand all the rules, but he picked it up with no problem.  We’ve been having a lot of fun playing this!  Thanks to The Adventures of Bear for this wonderful idea!

New scissor practice pages.  Thanks to everyone who gave advice about cutting pages a few weeks ago.  I decided to go with a book of activities, since I thought these would engage M a bit more than just lines on a paper.  I wanted to get the Kumon book of cutting, but no store around here seems to carry it.  I am happy with the one I found though:scissor practice pages 




Sorting objects by beginning sound:sorting phonics box objects
We played a “go fish” style game with our ABC cards.  We asked each other for the big or little letter of one we needed for a match.  When M wasn’t sure, I was able to help him out by saying the name of the thing pictured on the card.  We did all 26 letters, and this game lasted a loooong time!abc go fish   


A little counting game I came up with on the spur of the moment, which ended up being the hit of the week:  I grabbed our number cards, some dried beans, and a pillowcase.  The cards went into the pillowcase and we took turns pulling one out (no peeking!).  We had to set the card on the floor, turn it over to the counting side, and count beans onto it.  We used cards 0 through 15.  After all the cards were out of the pillowcase, we counted the total number of beans for each person.  The winner was whoever had the most beans.

Getting a card (hey, it looks like he’s peeking!):pillowcase counting game
Counting out the beans:pillowcase counting game   


M found a pet this week.  A little pill bug pet.  I am not thrilled about this, but I’m trying to be reasonable. :)

We have learned a lot about Mr. Pill Bug.  His skeleton is on the outside of his body where we can actually see it, and it protects him.  He can curl up into a ball when he’s afraid, and then he is completely protected.  He likes damp areas.  He likes to climb on rough rocks and hide under them.  He does not like smooth surfaces, like the inside of a bug catcher or say, a glass jar that he can’t climb out of.  He loves to eat decaying leaves and wood and maybe even pieces of shredded carrot. 

Mr. Pill Bug's new home

Frankly, I’m pretty sure we are slowly killing Mr. Pill Bug because he really doesn’t seem to be eating even though I’ve researched as much about him as I can (er… want to).  I’d love to set him free (outside, mind you) but then M’s heart might break.  I’m thinking the jar may just tip over and he may escape one of these days.

Here he is out for a little daytime stroll (actually I dug around for him to see if he was still alive):mr. pill bug (1)

mr. pill bug (2) Part of me says “ew”.  And part of me says “poor Mr. pill bug” and part of me says “I’d really rather have a dog”.

We also did a fun science experiment with balloons, which I posted about earlier.



We had some gorgeous weather recently.  I just love this picture of the big rake and the little rake leaning against our fence after two boys worked hard in the yard:

big rake, little rakeIsn’t that sweet?

And then a few days later we woke to see this out M’s window:Hello, SnowI wonder if that pile of leaves is still out there, under all that snow.  You can imagine how thrilled M was to see this! :) 

Well, when we began this year, I had mapped out activities based on one or two “letters of the week”, with math activities coming from the Montessori bead bars and number boards lessons.  Other than this, I planned on focusing mainly on fine and gross motor skills, art, and a fun science experiment here and there.  Really it was the math lessons and alphabet activities that were propelling us through the weeks.  Now that M has officially rejected the Montessori math lessons, and isn’t into the letter crafts, or even our phonics boxes very much, I’m having a hard time feeling like our weeks have any focus to them.  I’ve been haphazardly gathering ideas from a variety of places, and trying to be creative with making up new activities that aren’t too time-consuming to create (all the time keeping up an internal dialogue about how this isn’t really as important as I’m making it – sigh).

It’s going okay, and I think for the time being it’s just fine.  But I like a little more order and a plan with clear goals (OCD much?).  I’m definitely learning to be more flexible, and it’s encouraging that in the past couple of weeks M has begun counting as high as 30 without missing a beat – a huge leap from where he was when I was trying to stick with the Montessori plan.  So, something must be going well!  Still, I’m considering doing some unit studies after the beginning of the year – they are so much fun… but they take so much work to plan!  Ah well, we’ll see…

I’m linking this post up to Preschool Corner and Weekly Wrap-Up; be sure to check them out!

Have a beautiful day! :)


  1. Ooooh, the bugs... Great thing about them compared to other pets is you really, really can't tell when it has died and mum's replaced it with another one from the garden...
    Have you seen the link-up thingy on ? It's more or less a weekly thing on wednesdays and your posts would be perfect!

  2. Unit studies do take so much time, but they can be worth it.

    That is a lot of snow!

  3. LOVE the suncatcher, Christmas ornament idea! And the counting game.
    And I've been wondering whether Mancala would be too much for Crumpet. I played years ago and thought it was fun, but didn't remember enough about it to know if a 4 year old could play.Yay, I'm going to run out and buy it.

  4. Great ideas !! Can you please tell where did you get the pattern cards from?

  5. Momof1 - I got the pattern blocks and pattern cards from Amazon. Here's a link:

    M really loves them when I bring them out. I need to find more patterns for him. has some printable patterns, if you are interested!

    Thank you all for the all the comments! :)


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